“Mr. Military Mom”

June 20, 2008

Most of the time, when we think of military spouses, we think of the wives of Soldiers left at home, taking care of the household and the children and keeping the flame burning, while they wait for their Soldier to return. It’s not often that we hear anything about the Military Dad’s who remain at home while their wives deploy and take over the duties and responsibilities of “mom” in the household. Yet their numbers are ever increasing, as more and more women chose the military as a career and are deployed, and they are just as integral part of the military, as female spouses are. Currently there is no system in place to track the number of husbands whose wives are deployed. However, according to Paul Boyce, Army public affairs specialist at the Pentagon, more than 20,000 registered Soldiers in the Army alone are in the married couple program. About 60% of the Soldiers enlisted in the Army are married. At Fort Bragg, there is an ample number of husbands with deployed wives.

One such “Mr Military Mom” Major Keith Vollert with US Army Reserve 391st Engineer Battalion is home caring for his child while his wife Kathy is deployed to Iraq. Vollert takes care of the cooking, cleaning and making arrangements for is son to have play dates with other children.

“I have a much better appreciation of all the single parents out there,” he said. “And I’m only a single parent for a year.”

Each military family deals with deployments in a different way. Some like the Vollerts, leave the father in charge with backups in place. In their case, Keith’s parents, who are caring for their grandchild while Vollert attends extended combat training in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for 21 days. Others like field grade officers Sydney Smith and Tim Gilhool, hired a live-in nanny to help care for their two young children.

“You do your best,” said Gilhool, whose wife has been deployed right at a year. “You can’t be the mom. Like planning birthday parties, combing Molly’s hair, putting in the braids, shopping for girlie stuff. You do the best you can, you get advice.”

One “Mr. Military Mom”, Charles DeVito-Cromwell, who is retired from the 187th Infantry Regiment in Fort Campbell, Ky felt that he needed to have contact with the other men during their wives deployments in 2007. He reached out to them and helped to form the Army Community Services program called “Rear D Dads” at Fort Bragg. The group is a run by volunteers and meets monthly. It is designed to help men with deployed wives get information about various things; such as finding jobs to social events that are upcoming.

It’s great to hear about the husbands and how they are dealing with the deployment of their spouses. Those who are in the military themselves, I’m sure, come to appreciate what their wives deal with when they’re deployed and how difficult, yet rewarding it can be, to be the parent who stays behind and handles the everyday things and keeps things running smoothly at home. Just like the wives who are left behind when their Soldier deploys, they face the ups and downs that come along with news reports of an attack in the area where their loved one is at and the worry that goes along with it, until they know their spouse is safe. It’s good to see that the husbands at some bases are forming their own support groups to help them deal with the challenges they face as “Mr Military Mom.”

Fayetteville Observer


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